NEW YORK, March 21, 2023 – Despite the hardships caused by the ongoing conflict, harsh winter and economic struggles, Jews across Ukraine and refugees in Europe will celebrate Passover in the coming weeks thanks to the efforts of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Continuing its annual tradition of distributing matzah and special food packages for the holiday commemorating the Exodus story – which begins on April 5 – April 13 – JDC is distributing 50,000 boxes of matzah to Jewish community members across Ukraine.
JDC will also provide special packages for its volunteers and staff containing chocolate matzah, kosher wine or grape juice, dried fruits, nuts and other assorted snacks. The organization also reissued two special supplements for the Jewish community to use at their Passover seder meals to honor the voices of Jews in Ukraine and Jewish needs across the former Soviet Union.
“At the heart of the Passover story are resilience and hope, two qualities embodied by Jews in Ukraine, across the former Soviet Union, and among refugees remaining in Europe. In helping our fellow Jews celebrate the holiday of deliverance, we’re providing a critically needed sense of optimism for the future,” said Ariel Zwang, JDC CEO. “JDC has a long history of helping Jews throughout the region to observe Jewish tradition. We organized our first public seders two years before the fall of the Soviet Union and have been ensuring that Jews have access to matzah, food, and safe spaces they need to observe the holiday.”
JDC staff and volunteers are organizing more than 200 seders, both in-person and online, in JDC’s Hesed social service centers, Jewish community centers. and other JDC-supported facilities across Ukraine. The JDC-hosted seders are expected to have more than 10,000 participants. In addition to their formally hosted seders, JDC is supporting more than 300 Jews hosting Passover celebrations in their own homes.
Outside of Ukraine, JDC is planning seders for both Ukrainian refugees and Jewish community members in Moldova for an estimated 200 participants. The seders will be held at JDC’s JCC KEDEM in Chisinau. The organization is also preparing special material support, including bank and food cards, for 2,000 elderly and children in Moldova and planning seders in Tiraspol and Balti. In Poland, JDC plans to distribute 300 boxes of matzah to refugees, hold two seders for 150 people, and Passover activities for 65 youth refugees. Additionally, JDC will be supporting Passover activities for Jewish refugees in locations around Europe.
JDC’s Passover activities — including distribution of matzah by JDC’s Hesed social service centers and Jewish volunteer corps — is supported by JDC’s partnerships with the Claims Conference, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the Jewish Federations of North America, and UJA-Federation of New York.
Outside of Ukraine, JDC continues its nonpolitical humanitarian work across the former Soviet Union. JDC addresses the needs of tens of thousands of vulnerable Jews and builds Jewish life across 11 countries, from Moldova to Russia, Georgia to Belarus, and nations across the Caucuses and Central Asia.